Posts Tagged ‘new business trends’

How Today’s Economic Factors Drive Changes in Buyer Behaviors

How Today’s Economic Factors Drive Changes in Buyer Behaviors

Time kills deals.

Every new business person feels this statement in their bones. They all walk a fine line of pushing to get a new client on board while remaining patient. Most hate to be considered pushy. Given the current state and trajectory of the market though, prospects are going to ask for and take extra time to think and decide before taking action on signing a new agency. In fact, what we have seen in the past and are already seeing this summer is a change in how buyers make decisions.

Slower decision-making does not need to slow down your sales process

With budgets being reconsidered, revenue projections changing, and more scrutiny around every dollar spent, it’s no surprise why the buying process for services is slowing down. In a recent study by Forrester, they found that 43% of business buyers said they would “reduce the number of suppliers they use.” This stat should give any salesperson a bit of a pause, both anxiety over churn and excitement for opportunity. So what does this mean for you and your agency?

It means that you must be thoughtful in engaging prospects and clients. The process will take longer, so you need to be prepared for that mentally and with your own processes. It also means that you can’t just rely on one key touchpoint or interaction. You need to create a process and system that will keep you in front of your prospects, even if they aren’t ready to buy today.

Supporting their buying journey

The best way to do this is by helping and providing value in every interaction. Whether that’s sending them an article you think they would find interesting, or sending them a point-of-view (POV) on an industry trend, make sure that your interactions are about them and not just about trying to make a sale.

New Business people also need to be ready to ask the tough questions about their prospect’s buying process. It can sometimes be an awkward conversation, but the way people have signed an agreement in the past with a small group or single decision-maker is probably not going to be the case in the current market.

Here are some questions all should ask before you get too deep in the sales process:

  • How has your buying process changed over the last 60 days?
  • Who should we include in a review of these proposals?
  • Is there any customization I can provide on your Statement of Work (SOW) or Proposal that will better help you sell this to your team?

The key behind these questions is to make sure you are coming along the same side of the table as them to help them better understand, represent, and sell your service to the rest of their team. You don’t want to give the impression that you are bypassing them as the decision-maker. Instead, you want to help them come prepared to sell this to the collective buying group. By being prepared for a longer sales process, better understanding their decision process, and by being helpful and consultative at every interaction, you will be in a much better position to win new business…even in an uncertain market.

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Agency Insights: Market Shifts and Navigating the New Economy

Agency Insights
If there’s one word that describes 2022, it’s inflation. It’s affecting everything and everyone. It’s sucking the air out of the staggering growth that most brands and agencies have become accustomed to in the past 24 months. If you’re like most, 2022 started fairly strong but by the end of Q1 momentum started slowing.

This isn’t the Bear Market of March 2020

We all remember the circuit breaker days of the market falling off of a cliff in March of 2020. It was a panic-inducing few days that felt like years. It didn’t even qualify as a bear market and in hindsight was just a few really down days. It sparked the most rabid bull run that seemed to have no end.

By the end of 2020 agencies started reaping the benefits of that bull run. 2021 was marked by record-breaking growth for most. Outbound, inbound, referrals – new business was everywhere. The biggest problem was how to staff all the new business.

The bull run has indeed ended and there are no stimulus plans on the horizon.
Until inflation is under control, the plan is to cool the economy not stimulate it. It takes time so the present market we are in is likely not going away in the near future.

A Well-Rounded Outbound and Inbound Strategy is More Important Than Ever

There have been fewer RFPs this year compared to last year. After Russia invaded Ukraine and supply chains were disrupted, there seemed to be an unspoken pause in the market. Everyone was waiting to see if the problem was temporary or if there was a downturn looming. Consumers were still spending like they were in 2021 and then April came around and reality set in that the downturn was real. The silver lining is now that the situation is clear, brands are starting to make decisions again. It’s not anything like 2021, but brands are putting strategies and dollars in place to address the market we find ourselves in.  As an agency, a strategic outbound strategy has never been more important. It’s part of any good business strategy, but it acts as a hedge in downtimes. If your clients pull back on spending or fall off stating the economy, having a robust funnel of opportunities to backfill that revenue is crucial.

Brands Are Hungry For an Expert to Help Them Navigate This Environment

The one thing this market does have in common with March – October 2020 is volatility. Target is a perfect picture of that volatility. They missed their Q1 earnings for the first time since 2018….by a whopping 29%. They reported on May 18, 2022 and when asked by an analyst at Barclays why they didn’t give a pre-announcement that it was going to be this bad on analyst day just 2 months earlier on March 1st, Brian Cornell their CEO replied, “as we stand in front of you and others in March, we did not anticipate the rapid shifts we’ve seen over the last 60 days. We did not anticipate that transportation and freight costs would soar the way they have as fuel prices were then risen to all-time highs. While we were certainly anticipating the impact of overlapping stimulus and our consumer and guest returning to more normal activities, we did not expect to see the dramatic shift in many categories that we’ve talked about, the shift from categories like TVs to luggage, from small appliances to toys, and guests celebrating being out with friends. That certainly impacted our business in the first quarter, and we expect that to continue in Q2. And we certainly didn’t anticipate the impact that would have on our supply chain costs. So, things changed rapidly after we sit on stage in New York. We own that. It’s what we’re adjusting as we build our plans for the balance of the year.”

Brands are looking for agency experts to help them navigate the volatility. POV thought leadership pieces and problem/solution pieces go a long way in this market. Because of the volatile conditions, the needs are changing at a rapid speed. Your outbound messaging needs to change as the landscape changes. Focusing concise messaging to your Right to Win categories will land you new opportunities to thrive in a down market.

What’s Your Right to Win?

Right to Win is defined as the prospects/brands that best fit your prospective client profile of a perfect client. Whether it is focused on an industry, size company, regional location, etc. They are a brand that essentially should have been a client yesterday because there is no other firm more qualified or set up to work with them to achieve their marketing goals.

Here’s how using Right to Win can get your 2022 really booming in the 2nd half of the year:

1. Right to Win clients close faster

This is because they are brands you are familiar with, you understand their business at an intimate level, and the brand most likely recognizes that expertise because of your team’s language, pitch, and website focus. Faster deals mean more growth and profitability.

2. Pitch when you are the front runner

Pitching is far from an exact (or even fair) science. It is a costly and timely process that can pull your team’s focus to a project that, potentially, you never had a chance to win in the first place. Unfortunately, you do not know that until the end of the pitch, so let’s be sure we are only pitching those that we know are the front runners, or in the case of proactive outbound pitching, are the only ones pitching.

3. The right clients maximize all areas of your business

The inbound are low-hanging fruit and the revenue feels like it’s just right there, only we know from decades of experience that taking a client because they generate revenue, rather than them being our strategic best fit can have many unintended consequences on profitability, churn levels, and employee engagement. Right to Win clients are set up to maximize profit, reduce churn, and increase employee engagement…don’t settle for revenue, aim to maximize everywhere.

Brands Are Hungry For an Expert to Help Them Stand Out

While there is a lot of talk about recession, Auto is the vertical that has hit recession-level declines. Most verticals are still spending and will be planning and spending more than they did in the previous quarter. Now more than ever, brands want to hear from an expert that understands them and can help them stand out in a meaningful way. It’s time for your agency to focus on that expertise and drive those Right to Win clients right into your agency’s open arms.

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Recap of Strategies from the Mirren New Business Conference

Recap of Strategies from the Mirren New Business Conference

We heard a lot of things this year at the Mirren New Business Conference. Aside from all of the excitement and thankful words about being at a conference in person, there were some very consistent (and important!) messages being sent from the myriad of expert speakers about new business strategies to grow your revenue this year. 

Here were some of the key new business strategies we enjoyed this year:

Pacing outbound sales efforts

Outbound sales takes time. If you want to build a proactive pipeline of opportunities that you have the highest likelihood to win you’ll need to treat this like a marathon, not a sprint. If you are looking at new business in 3-month segments, you aren’t ready for a new business program. You should be viewing new business in 18-month plans. Agencies that have been really successful have built their process and plans around this 18-month timeframe. Remember, planting a garden on Monday doesn’t feed your family on Tuesday, so continue to tend your garden, expand it, and in time you will reap the rewards.

Recruiting top talent

New Business is key to retaining and recruiting talent. During the Great Resignation, what could be more important than finding great talent to work at your firm?  Driving positive, exciting new business will not only help your revenue and bottom line, but it will help ensure that people actually want to build their careers with your team.

Diversifying your client base

Q1 and Q2 have been slower for many, and you are not alone in feeling like inbound pitches have slowed from what we all saw in 2021. While we have seen reports that brands continue to plan to spend more in the 2nd half of 2022, many have felt the crunch of stalled projects and reduced scopes. It’s time to further diversify your client base to protect against these forces.

Expanding work with your current client base

Organic growth can be proactive as well. You don’t have to wait until a client tells you they need more, you can help them find new solutions that expand on your scope of work. The agencies that really separate themselves from the pack are the ones that not only win a piece of business, but they consistently grow that piece of business throughout the years.

Staying in front of your prospects

“Brands are always looking, but you never know when they are actually looking”. A confusing sentence to be sure, but the point is, you always have to be there if you want a brand to find you. There are no days off when it comes to new business and keeping your agency in front of the brands that you most want to connect with.

Building your lead gen engine

There are a lot of channels for growth, outbound does not work alone. Inbound can define who you are because in order to have an effective inbound program you have to create specific, valuable, expert content that will attract the exact types of prospects that you want to work with.

Acing the discovery call

The objective of your new business call is not to sell your prospects, but simply to learn enough to get to the next meeting. People want to work with people they like, and what people like are people who listen to them and understand their problems.  Two ears – one mouth…use that ratio when deciding whether you talk or listen at that first new business call.

Taking on project work

Be willing to earn the right to the retainer…many agencies want to jump right into the marriage, they want the Agency of Record (AOR) and retainer relationships, but there are many brands that just don’t have those needs immediately. Allow yourself to be open to projects that can organically grow into those retainers in the future.

 

These are just some of the highlights from Mirren Live in Kansas City this year. While Catapult has always been at the forefront of proactive new business strategies, it was exciting to hear agency experts of all sizes continue to reinforce the value that proactive sales can offer to agencies. Want to continue learning more about proactive new business development? Join Catapult’s email subscription Insights with Catapult to receive monthly content like this one. 

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Agency Burnout: Pitch After Pitch is Killing Staff Morale

It’s no secret; the business development process is grueling.  Even Digiday reported in an article earlier this year, ‘Never not on a pitch’: Staffers feel burnout amid agency pressure to pitch new business with fewer resources.” Staffers are, now more than ever, constantly pressured to pitch new business with fewer resources. All of this pitching is leading to one inevitable place… burnout. Agency new business has never been more competitive and things won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

How can agencies avoid this burnout and grow?

The answer in many cases is simple: be more selective. Easier said than done, right? To be more selective, you first need to clearly define who you want to work with. This means being very strict about who you absolutely do not want to work with.

Prioritize your pitchable brands by:

  • Choosing those within your agency’s Right to Win.*
  • Ensuring there is a passion for the brand (vertical, consumer type, etc).
  • Knowing which services and scopes are actually profitable.
  • Finding scopes that matches your expertise.

*What do I mean by Right to Win?
If you can say that there is a “right to win” then you can prove it through case studies and past work examples. When you show prospects this, they will want to work with you just as much as you want to work with them.

Stay Out of the Waiting-On-The-RFP Game

If an RFP comes across your desk that doesn’t fit within these parameters, leave it alone. I know it’s hard to turn away from a potential payday, especially when a feeling of uncertainty surrounds your new business pipeline, but you can be risking profitability or employee churn by putting your teams on projects they aren’t passionate about. Once you have set these parameters, do not stray! Agency new business is a lot like dating. If you know what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to find it, so stay out of the waiting-on-the-RFP game and get into the proactive biz dev game.

Just like in your personal life, being proactive vs. reactive will always lead to better results. Get out there and start hunting for new prospects that fit your agency’s Right to Win. Utilize email, social, and resurgence of in-person events to connect with those brands that you are most passionate about and focus on planting the right seeds of growth with them. 

They may not be a quick fix for cash that some of these ill-fitting RFPs may inject, but what they will do is set your team up for long-term business development success. Happy employees lead to happy clients, and eventually more rewarding work for your agency.

 

So there you have it. A few tips to avoid pitch burnout and set your agency up for new business success. Agency new business is a process, but if you’re strategic about it, the right clients will partner with you when you need them most.

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New Business Trends of 2022 – Part 3 of 3

We’re rounding out 2022 new business trends with a focus on Experimental Budgets. Those elusive and magical dollars are set aside to try new things and open new channels for brands.

We know that marketers’ budgets for testing are continually increasing, but now more than ever is a time when these budgets are no longer afterthoughts. The Pandemic’s disruption colliding with a huge diversification of media and an acceleration of new consumer behaviors means that marketers are having to try new things and look for new creative avenues and media channels to put their budgets. They are doing this too with full knowledge that a large portion of these budgets may not get them a Return on Investment (ROI) immediately.  

Skip the Procurement Approval Process

The ROI conversation is a big one because when you are in a testing mindset, as these brands are, you are willing to look at ROI differently in order to evaluate a campaign more holistically. Rather than just “did sales increase?”, marketers are exploring how else these campaigns may affect the brand image/recognition as a whole. This open-mindedness opens new opportunities for an agency to get their foot in the door.

We have seen this play out over the past 12 months in a number of ways. Recently, one of Catapult’s clients was speaking with a direct-to-consumer mattress company about their 2022 growth goals. They had already set their performance marketing budgets for the year, but what they set aside was $150k/month to try new channels. Because they already have these dollars budgeted, the marketers themselves can sign off on new partners without having to go through the typical CMO/procurement approval process, saving a massive amount of time and energy for our agencies. While $80k may not be a huge initial project, that is a monthly budget, so the calculus is that the program you are running is going to be fantastic and you are going to be able to continue all year – totaling closer to an overall $1 million client.

What the Data Tells Us

If these budgets are easier to get signoff, how do we know they are out there happening at an increased rate? We looked at the data. In 2021, we looked at the number of new agency relationships added to the Winmo database vs agency relationships ended in the database. You would expect these to be close to a 1:1 ratio if you assume these are retainer relationships, one agency wins a new piece of business, and as such another loses. 1 new win, 1 new loss. What we actually saw though was that new relationships happened at double the pace of ending relationships. Essentially, brands are hiring more agencies for projects and experimental work at an increasingly fast pace.

Further evidence to this was looking at our select group of over 50 agencies within the Catapult group and we found that 72% of our agencies’ new work started last year was in the form of an initial project, not a retainer. There are certainly retainers out there to be had and won (and increasing RFPs back that up), but the quicker decisions being made by marketers right now in mass are those with a project background.

We aren’t saying that you only consider project work moving forward. What we are saying is that when you go into an initial fact-finding call with a new brand, be aware of these experimental budgets and keep it in the back of your mind as they talk about opportunities that do or do not exist currently. While they may not be out there searching for a new Agency of Record, we are sure they are looking to find a new way to break through to different audiences and there is money to be spent.

 

The Key Trends Impacting Agency New Business in 2022

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The 12 Ads That Made Us Smile This Season

And on the 1st day of Christmas, my true love (ahem, Winmo), gave to me…

With holiday cheer in full swing, we’re taking a break to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with our partner Winmo, our clients, and to appreciate the campaigns released this season. 

Catapult is rounding up the top ads that made us smile, and we hope it brings you some cheer too. 

1. Aldi | EBanana Scrooge

We can’t get enough of the fruits and vegetables in Aldi’s holiday ads. The retail chain takes a fun holiday spin on their core message promoting better-for-you options in order to reach health-oriented consumers. We love this year’s edition with a banana and a fun spin on the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge. McCann WorldGroup gave us this campaign, and it all started with the iconic A Christmas Carrot ad and Kevin the Carrot.

What we’ve known about Aldi during the past two years is that it’s digital ad spend increased, and that trend has continued in 2021 and into the holiday season, according to Winmo Sales Predictions. Learn more with Winmo.

 

2. Amazon | Kindness is the greatest gift

If we learned anything as a collective group this year, it’s that empathy is the glue that keeps us together. The sentiment of this ad hits on emotion and feeling of belonging we’ve all craved during the holiday frenzy. 

The agency Lucky Generals zeroed in on this emotion and communicated the value of kindness over materialism perfectly, showing us that there is a genuine place for this brand in our lives. 

 

3. Disney | The Stepdad

The in-house team at Disney debuted the Christmas Short “The Stepdad” this season and it was a tear-jerker. All we can say is get the tissues ready.

 

4. Etsy | Give More than a Gift

The brand worked with 72andsunny to make a big marketing push for the holiday season, according to Winmo Sales Predictions. The message behind the advert reminds people that connecting with your friends and family is what makes the holidays so meaningful. 

 

5. Home Depot | Does Santa Shop Here?

The Home Depot named BBDO as its creative AOR just this year, and within months released the brand’s holiday campaign. The ad features real retail associates from Alaska and showcases just how far their customer support will go to keep a customer happy…in this case by keeping Santa’s identity a secret.  We love that they’ve kept this lighthearted and close to the brand’s mission.

The Winmo research team reported earlier this year that The Home Depot selected OMD as its media AOR as well. Winmo is predicting that with these two new agency relationships the brand will be increasing their media spend in the New Year. Learn more with Winmo.

 

6. Lego | Rebuild the World

Another beautifully crafted ad that shows how kids can build and rebuild whatever they want using their imagination with Lego products. The ad was created by Lego’s in-house agency and is another stunning spot for the brand’s Rebuild the World campaign, originally launched in 2019.

 

7. Macy’s | Tiptoe and the Flying Machine

BBDO New York created a loveable character named Tiptoe who we met during the Thanksgiving Day parade. They’ve brought Tiptoe back for the holiday season, this time in an advert where the reindeer realizes her dream of joining Santa’s Sleigh Team. It’s cute, it’s inspirational, need we say more?

 

8. Planters | A Nutty Holiday

Ok this one deserves a spot on our list because, well to put it simply, nostalgia. Or NUTstalgia as the ad cleverly puts it. The new work awarded to VaynerMedia after an acquisition by Hormel positions Planters, or what is more notably recognized as Mr. Peanut, as “A Nut Above”, the tagline introduced earlier this year. We’re loving the throwback. 

 

9. Peloton | When Your Workout is a Joy, It’s a joy to workout

Another classic holiday favorite, the story of Scrooge, has been spun by the agency adam&eveNYC to share the joys of working out with a Peloton. Ahead of the New Year / New Me resolutions, this ad is sure to inspire those looking to boost their workout routine. And it really does look like fun, even for a Scrooge.

There’s a lot more activity ahead for the brand in 2022. Learn more with Winmo.

 

10. SNL + HomeGoods | What real moms want

I know, I know, not a serious advert, but the SNL skit was hilariously good and we couldn’t help but add it here. It really did make us smile. The family of brands HomeGoods, TJX, and Marshall’s tends to target women of most ages, and the skit so perfectly hits on the holiday dynamics between mothers and daughters.

 

11. Toyotathon | Bookstore

 

Saatchi & Saatchi put together a spot that shares a heartwarming story of togetherness and community with Toyota at the center. The agency has been leading the campaign for the new 2022 Tundra, which is prominently featured in the advert. 

 

12. Wegmans | Happy Together

Lastly, we picked this cute advert from Wegman’s. It’s another advert that really shows the reason for the season, being together. The agency Optic Sky brought this one to life and shows us how Wegman’s brings people together during the holidays.

 

 

The message is clear this year, brands want to find a place in your life where you can make genuine connections with other people. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed putting this list together, and hope it brings you happiness this holiday season!

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New Business Trends of 2022 – Part 2 of 3

New Business Trends of 2022

The past two years forced many agencies to take a hard look internally at their business development efforts. When the Pandemic began, paused agreements and decreasing scope were standard across huge swaths of most client bases, and new client acquisition needed to happen quickly. That increased need has caused many medium-to-large-sized agencies to take on a true “sales machine” mentality. No longer sitting back and saying “if you build it they will come”, these shops are competing by saying “we will bring it to you”.  

With this shift in mentality, expect to see more competition than ever from other agencies this year. Outbound activity will be at an all-time high from all of your competitors.

Agency Tenure

This “bring it to you” approach of new business is especially important as you begin to realize the timing of how brands buy. In the past, the generally accepted timing of agency tenure was somewhere around three years. Every three years a brand would be out hunting for a new creative or media AOR. If we make that assumption to be true, that would mean that 33% of brands in a given year are shopping. Not too hard to find 1 out of 3, right?

Well, the assumptions made about agency tenure are deceiving. Catapult evaluated over 2,500 relationships that were tracked in Winmo and we found that the actual average tenure of a brand/agency relationship is 5.9 years! Almost double what the assumed tenure is.  

Total Addressable Market and Competition

The more growth-aggressive agencies are building a sophisticated sales machine to get in front of these brands. They understand that in order to capture the 17% of brands shopping for an agency, you need to spend time educating and interacting with a higher percentage of the Total Addressable Market. You can’t ignore the other 83% that aren’t in a position to buy today, because they may be in position tomorrow. We certainly can’t force them to have a need or to go into an RFP, but we can proactively find ways to stay in front of them and lay the foundation through value-added content and conversations. It’s recognizing though that new opportunity conversations don’t always have to end with a budget and a win, sometimes the win is just in making the connection with your prospect by showing value in a unique and meaningful way.

The “sales machines” that are being built to capture business both have an eye on the 17% and the 83% discussed, but it’s not easy. In order to do that, you need both 1:1 human outreach for the 17% using both data and insights, while also spending time educating the other 83% through content, PR, SEO, and SEM methods. Neither of these paths work truly alone in a vacuum, and a more holistic approach is what is needed to ensure that you are able to compete with all the increased activity from your competitors. If you begin to slack in any one area of this approach, it will have a negative cascading effect on your entire new business process.  

Finding the Right Opportunities 

Below is an example of a tech stack and outreach flow that our team utilizes to go after the 17% of buyers that are looking today. This takes time, organization, and accountability to consistently use the data at hand in a very structured process in order to produce the types of meetings that we know will result in revenue. The key here though is the process. The clearer and more structured your process is in the beginning, the easier it will be to customize, adjust, and scale as you learn which prospects are falling into the 17% and which are in the 83%.  

 

 

With so much disruption happening, agency opportunities are at an all-time high and it’s going to be a highly competitive year ahead. Is your sales machine running at full speed?

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